Roma vs. Juventus: 5 Things We Learned
Roma claimed a famous win at the Olimpico on Saturday night, defeating their nemesis Juventus to boost their hopes of claiming a European place and denting the Bianconeri's title hopes.
Francesco Totti decided this encounter with a special goal that flashed past Gianluigi Buffon in the blink of an eye.
The Giallorossi faithful were sent into raptures and the Olimpico roared louder than ever this season at the final whistle, signalling the first victory for interim manager Aurelio Andreazzoli.
Juventus must gather themselves and bounce back quickly as Napoli could be just two points behind them if they can win their game in hand.
Here is what we learned from this game.
The Goal of the Season Contest Is Decided
It's over, it's just that simple.
The contest for goal of the season should not even be discussed any further, as anybody who witnessed Francesco Totti's thunderbolt against Juventus will testify.
The Capitano latched onto a poor clearance by the Bianconeri from a Miralem Pjanic free kick, pulling back the trigger and unleashing one of the cleanest, most powerful shots you will ever come across.
The ball flew past Gianluigi Buffon—who was utterly magnificent throughout the game—before the Azzurri No. 1 could even get near it.
Not only was it a sensational goal, but the moment and importance will topple any other candidate, both existing and future.
Stekelenburg Could Yet Be Roma's Number One
Maarten Stekelenburg has endured a difficult moment in his career with Roma.
The former Ajax goalkeeper had struggled to win a starting place under Zdenek Zeman—the Czech manager preferred Mauro Goicoechea for the most part until he was sacked a few weeks ago.
The Dutch No. 1 possesses a huge frame and can control his penalty area when he is confident, but that has often been the problem during his career in the capital.
Stekelenburg looked calm throughout the game, making numerous saves that will have delighted Andreazzoli, validating his decision to install him as the No. 1 ahead of his Uruguayan rival.
Stekelenburg got down superbly to deny Andrea Pirlo's wonderful free kick that was dipping low into the bottom corner.
Stekelenburg then denied a certain goal by stretching back to deflect Sebastian Giovinco's tantalising cross that seemed destined to be tapped into an empty net by Paul Pogba.
Make no mistake about it, Stekelenburg must continue to prove that he is worth maintaining—having come close to a move away in January—but performances like this suggest that Roma have a number one they can trust.
Andrea Barzagli's Athleticism Is a Concern
Andrea Barzagli's situation at Juventus is fascinating.
On the one hand it is easy to argue that he has been the best defender in Serie A over the last 18 months, but on the other there was evidence tonight to suggest that he could be on the decline.
Barzagli reads the game magnificently, but he is not blessed with express pace or quick feet to be able to able to keep up with attackers who attempt to twist and turn him when facing him up one on one.
Pablo Osvaldo tended to drift to the left quite often for the Giallorossi and the Argentine-born Italy international is hardly considered one of the most dangerous dribblers in the game, neither possessing exceptional skills and tricks to be able to dazzle opponents.
But the 27-year-old persistently faced up Barzagli when picking up the ball on the left wing and continued to run directly at Barzagli, shifting the ball from one foot to the other and working half a yard to shoot or cross.
Roma were actually most dangerous when Francesco Totti picked the ball up and stretched the Bianconeri by sliding Osvaldo into the space on the left.
It is nothing to panic about just yet, but with Leonardo Bonucci tending to enjoy being the most central of the centre-backs in order to utilise his wonderful range of passing, Barzagli's lack of pace could soon be exposed on a more regular basis.
Gigi Is Still the King
Buffon will feel aggrieved after the Roma game, but that's natural for such a perfectionist who conceded a goal.
Italy's greatest goalkeeper should not feel too down though, as he put on a masterclass that rivalled his opposite number Stekelenburg.
Buffon was imperious and denied Pjanic's arrowing drive from distance that appeared destined for the bottom corner.
The Bosnian then swung in an inviting cross for Osvaldo to head powerfully towards goal, but Buffon was equal to that as well, punching it away and wide of any subsequent danger.
After a series of injuries in years past, it is a joy to see one of the footballing greats replicating some of the best form of his glittering career.
Torosidis Showed What the Giallorossi Shirt Means
Vassilas Torosidis was signed by the Giallorossi in January without much fanfare.
The Greek international signed from Olympiakos but despite over 50 international caps, there was little excitement from the Romanistas.
Maybe this skepticism was fueled by his former teammate Leandro Greco stating that defending "doesn't seem to be his strong point."
Roma's interim manager decided to go with a 3-4-3 formation tonight and the Greek international was utilised on the right side of the midfield.
His energy and stamina to continuously work up and down the flank, containing Kwadwo Asamoah—both defensively and also pushing the Ghanaian back due to his surging runs forward—was brilliant to see.
Such enthusiasm and desire in the Giallorossi shirt has been sparse this season, but Torosidis delivered a performances that set a tone for how Roma should set out moving forward.